Lithuania 0-1 England: Rating the players

Date published: Monday 9th October 2017 1:05

JACK BUTLAND
More to do than he might have expected against a team ranked 120th in the world. Tipped one round the post in the first half (although it was given as a goal kick), but his best save was from Michael Keane, which demonstrated his fine reactions.

Incidentally, the last England goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet on debut was Joe Hart in 2008. That was so long ago that David Bentley played.

 

JOHN STONES
Certainly looks happier with life in England now he is in form at club level, and was rarely flustered against Lithuania. Fun fact: England are yet to concede a goal in a competitive match that Stones has started. Fun opinion: That’s probably because he hasn’t played in a major tournament yet. Still, if England do go with three at the back, he’s a cert to start in Russia.

 

MICHAEL KEANE
Weak header out allow a chance in the first half, but by rights Keane should have scored an own goal but for the reactions of Butland. It annoys me a disproportionate amount that international footballers would rather go with their stronger foot and kick the ball towards their goal than using their weaker foot and clearing it.

 

HARRY MAGUIRE
Played the pass that started the move from which the penalty came, by stepping up into midfield. Plays in a flat back four at Leicester City but used to a central defensive three from his time at Hull City. I’m filling because I don’t have many notes for Maguire.

 

KIERAN TRIPPIER
You’ll have to wait until the ladder comes out tomorrow to see if we consider Trippier ahead of Nathaniel Clyne in the England ladder, but he’s certainly doing himself no harm. Created two chances and got further far more than Aaron Cresswell in the first half. Had 47 more touches of the ball than Cresswell too, which seems a large disparity.

 

AARON CRESSWELL
Too quiet and too stunted in the first half, but pushed higher up the pitch in the second. England didn’t play with enough intensity and pace in the final third for Cresswell to overlap at speed, but did put in a decent cross that led to a chance for Harry Winks, and had a header that was well saved. Still, at best England’s third-choice left-back.

 

HARRY WINKS
Impossible to know whether England have found a genuine option in central midfield until he faces a higher standard of opposition, but Winks was our best player against Lithuania. On debut, that’s extremely pleasing. Frustrating that he had to play as the deeper of the two central midfielders while Jordan Henderson roamed to fairly miserable effect, but incredibly tidy in possession.

A pass completion rate of 96% from 98 passes is enough to make us purr, particularly because not every one was sideways or backwards and because he actually moves too.

 

JORDAN HENDERSON
‘There are moments – largely when he doesn’t think – when he can look like a proper footballer, with a quick one-two, a first-time cross or a snap shot,’ wrote Sarah Winterburn last Thursday. ‘But then he is given time or space to think and you can almost hear the cogs whirring from your living room.’

Same, but against a Lithuania team ranked 120 in the bloody world. I just don’t get it. His passing isn’t good enough over long distances nor sufficiently probing. He loses possession and then rushes forward to try and make amends, which will lead to him being caught out of possession against good teams (think Germany at World Cup 2010). He is still too slow with the ball.

You might think the captaincy debate doesn’t matter, but it does. Because if Henderson gets it over Kane, he will never be dropped. We’d just like to see Gareth Southgate try life without him.

 

DELE ALLI
Won the penalty and had a few bright interchanges with Marcus Rashford, but as soon as the first goal went in Alli looked to be playing at half pace. That’s understandable given the meaningless nature of the game, but he must be careful. If Southgate sticks with 3-4-3, Raheem Sterling is the more natural fit for a wide role and Alli hasn’t scored in eight games for England, remember.

 

MARCUS RASHFORD
Proved on Thursday that he is our most exciting talent with ball at feet, but pretty disappointing on Sunday. We’re putting that down to getting an early kick that made him wary of injury and seemingly given as much of a stuff about this game as every one of the other players who are guaranteed to be in Russia next summer.

 

HARRY KANE
Fifteen goals in his last ten games for club and country, and the winner in both England’s games during this international break. If our most reliable player deserves to be the captain, chuck that man the armband.

The only foible is that I’m worried about him taking too many shots from distance in games that really matter, but, for now, it’s a small gripe.

 

SUBSTITUTES

DANIEL STURRIDGE (on for Rashford, 72)
Mishit one chance and had another blocked. Still, his first cap for almost a year is cause for celebration.

 

JESSE LINGARD (on for Alli, 80)
Now only two caps behind Matt Le Tissier.

Daniel Storey

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